A council Leader has hit back at accusations that money has been taken out of Haverhill.
Cllr John Griffiths was responding to a petition presented to St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s full Council meeting on June 30th, demanding that £32,000 a year of Council Tax Support Grant be restored to Haverhill Town Council.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council itself is facing further cuts of £1.5m in 2015/16, on top of the £3.5m they have already saved. Cllr Griffiths said the decision last year to reduce the support grant was to reflect financial reality but also to give certainty to allow town and parish to plan their own budgets accordingly. He said,
“It is not Haverhill Town Council’s money which you are talking about – or ours. The money belongs to the residents of Haverhill ….. and you - with respect and however important, are not Haverhill.”
The meeting was told that the £143,700 Council Tax Support pot was divided between 56 town and parish councils in the borough. Haverhill receives more than the other 55 combined – with a Council Tax Support grant from St Edmundsbury of £96,700.
Cllr Griffiths said Haverhill may well have felt neglected in the past - but not since he had made the town a priority after being elected council leader in 2003. He said there had been many beneficial changes in the past 11 years with his council delivering very significant improvements and investment to Haverhill.
“I am proud to stand by the borough council’s track record and continuing investment in Haverhill which has in no small part made it a very different place today than it was ten years ago.”
St Edmundsbury has invested £750,000 in the Haverhill Research Park, which will create 2000 jobs; £9.25m in the Haverhill cinema, £5m in a refit of the leisure centre and £2m of improvements in Queen Street, Jubilee Walk and Cleales car park; and has now committed a further £750,000 for the High Street.
It also invested £2m on the community football project, and spends £400,000 a year maintaining the town’s parks, and £120,000 a year toward running the leisure centre.
As well as the existing grant to Haverhill Town Council , the borough council also invests £50,000 a year in One Haverhill and £25,000 a year through the Haverhill councillor locality budgets.
“We want to work more constructively with Haverhill Town Council, and to continue to support it, as we already do.”